N’NAMDI CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY ART PRESENTS
STEPHEN ARBOITE’S SECOND SOLO EXHIBITION,
“BIG GOOD ANGEL”
OPENING SEPTEMBER 23, 2022, DETROIT, MICHIGAN
Exploring his Haitian-American Heritage and Present Ties to Vodou, Arboite Debuts a Body of Work that Looks Ontologically at the Soul and its Universe
Each piece I create is one foothold amongst a constellation of entry points to layered subject matter: my
Haitian-American experience, place and space, Vodou and Vodun. Entitled Big Good Angel, this
presentation takes its namesake directly from “Gwo Bonnanj” the Haitian Vodou term for half of one's
soul—the half that emerges from the pool of life (the Gran Mèt) to bring breath, and returns to the vast
expanse upon death. Its counterpart, the Ti Bonnanj, fills this shadow-like glider with color and texture,
offering personality and character, while the Lwa, a cast of protective spirits, hover, guide and heal the
Soul. In the last couple of years, I’ve cautiously foregrounded this spiritual tradition which has
backgrounded my upbringing and becoming. I see it appear undeniably in the reflections and
dreamscapes I create, in the ritualistic, meditative—even ceremonial—approach I take to making, and in
the materiality of my mixed media paintings. With this exhibition, I am for the first time explicitly
situating myself in proximity to Vodun and observing my relationship to it.
The Haitian Art Collection of Roland Wiener
To understand Haitian painting, one must know that this country has been an authentic cultural crucible, in which were mixed the Carib Indians, the Spanish invaders, the fearsome Brothers of the Coast, filibusters, and pirates of all kinds from France, the English, and more than 30 African tribes. Also mixed in it were their languages, customs, [and] religions. Also, it fought Napoléon’s armies with the marooned enslaved people who then revolted to conquer their independence in 1804. Haiti, the land of mountains in the original Indian language, rites, myths, rhythms, land of violence, and the land of Vodou, has always been the land of poets, painters, sculptors, and musicians. The whole of Haitian history displays this unflagging activity; preColumbiann history reveals the art of the Carib and Taïno Indians. The enslaved people from Africa have left us sculpted traces of their cultures. The anonymous creators are without numbers, such as the Vodou priests who decorated their temples with drawings to the glory of their gods. Among them also, the blacksmiths of Vodou, the first in any event to adorn the cemeteries with “vèvès” (drawings) made of metal, without forgetting that ephemeral vèvès drawn on the ground on the occasion of Vodou ceremonies that were wiped out under the steps of “possessed” dancers. This continues to our day.
-From Gérald Bloncourt, Artist and Art Historian
* Translated by Max Blanchet, Berkeley, C.A., Courtesy of Studio Wah (www.studiowah.com)
Acclaimed art connoisseur and partners to bring a living-and-retail experience to Live6
On a stretch of McNichols in between the University of Detroit and Marygrove College campuses lies an inconspicuous property on a quiet residential street corner.
7303 W. McNichols is currently an abandoned building but may soon become one of Detroit’s most exciting new residential and commercial developments in years.
The project will catalyze the economic activity coming to the Bagley/Fitzgerald neighborhood by adding housing units and commercial offerings, and led, in part, by one of Detroit’s foremost art collectors, galleries George N’Namdi, the property will be a work of art as well as a showplace for it.
About N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art
The N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art is a nonprofit dedicated to enlightenment through the arts. Created by George N’Namdi, this state of the art facility includes four exhibition spaces, including indoor and outdoor performance areas. George N’Namdi is a leading art dealer, with 30+ years experience as a gallery owner. The Center continues N’Namdi’s work in the preservation of master artists and providing local artists a home for their art, including performance art and experiential theater.
The Center also offers an array of programming including juried shows, lectures, art invitationals, family events, and an artist in residence program. The N’Namdi Center Complex houses Seva, a vegetarian restaurant; a gift and bookstore; wine bar; and additional boutique stores.
In addition to the exhibitions on view in our galleries, the N’Namdi offers a variety of programs designed to promote understanding, appreciation and knowledge of the arts.